The inspired lecture series by Al Gore needs a more practical sequel
Recently, I saw the lecture based upon the film an inconvenient truth live, with Al Gore.
It was a compelling call to action. Gore, a charismatic speaker, convinced us with striking timelines showing gradual glacial retreat, as well as comparing rising numbers of storms with rising CO2 levels over the industrial era.
The most significant cumulative effect of climate change he said will be water shortages.
Add this to a population explosion, up to 6.5 billion now in 2007, and expected to rise to an even larger 9.4 billion by 2050, and we have serious resource issues on our hands.
Rising sea levels were also depicted with a no holds barred approach, as Gore showed pictures of the massive Larsen B ice sheet breaking up in the Antarctic, a phenomenon scientists predicted would happen in 100 years, but ended up taking place over the course of 35 days.
The melt of the ice sheets in Antarctica and in the Arctic cannot be predicted by scientists and thus are often left out of the equation when calculating sea level rise, Gore explained.
He went on to point out that if both the West Antarctic, which is showing signs of melting and the Greenland ice cap were to melt, then we’d face an 8 meter sea level rise… times two.
Gore then proceeded to flood a map of Manhattan, presumably to bring the argument closer to home for his target audience, his fellow Americans.
In an attempt to round off the argument on a positive note, he sketched a bright future for the planet, providing we use technology, that he claims already exists, in the right way to maximize the efficiency of our energy use and our use of renewable energy.
A great speech, but I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t back this up with an anecdote of his own contribution to this energy revolution.
Instead he spun intermittent tales about flying to Nigeria to give a talk on energy policy, about driving with his wife down to their farm in Tenessee, talk that may win the Americans over with its down to earth charm, but that could irritate a UK audience eager to hear a progressive voice coupled with progressive action.
According to Gore we can solve this problem of climate change the same way that we solved fascism in WW2 and solved racial divide in the US and South Africa. What he didn’t mention is the suffering many people went through to fight for those causes.
I suspect the climate change problem will be an even more challenging task involving sacrifice as well as the use of new technologies, something I can only assume Gore realizes himself, as he lobbies in Washington for a 90% cut in CO2 emissions.
This is surely the most inconvenient truth of all. I left the talk keen to hear his proposed solutions for the climate crisis in an equally powerful sequel: An Even More Inconvenient Truth – “you know that climate change exists; now we have to do something about it”.